Monday, November 12, 2012

Welcome to adulthood.

I have a new apartment.

Let's call this a christening.

Or rather more along the lines of spraying champagne on the deck of your boat (I've been told that's a thing), burning sage, buying an orchid (which I would love someone to do FYI), or smashing dishes- the first cake baked ritual holds its own. It's also much tastier and doesn't involve alcohol soaked walls, although I suspect this particular cake would pair just lovely with some bubbles. Maybe we should try it....

In addition to the new apartment, there's been a lot going on in the past few months. The best part about that sentence is that they're ALL good things.  That and for the past two months I've almost exclusively been baking banana bread.  Probably at least once a week, if I'm being honest. Sometimes two, if I am being really honest.  There must have been something in the air, or water, or maybe it was just that I kept subconsciously (and then very very consciously) buying bananas I knew I would never eat each week.  Whatever it was, September and October are officially awash with banana bread.  I'm not even sure we're out of the woods yet, I'm not even sick of it, but there are other important things to discuss

Like pears.

Poached and caramelized in butter and maple sugar. 

I think upside down cake is the grandmother of all cakes. Not in any hierarchical sense, just as in upside down cake is like a grandmother.  Specifically, the most infamous pineapple incarnation, screams: eat me, I've been sitting on this counter in your Grandmother's house for a week, and somehow against all odds I am more and more delicious the older I get.

Despite, or possibly because of being the most grandmotherly cake, Upside down cake is also very delicious.  Or else it is with pears and other things that are not in fact pineapples. I'm sorry to the rest of the world, but pineapples make me too anxious and I've never been all that excited about them.

But I do like pears and I do like my new kitchen. Actually, like is an understatement, I am overwhelmingly enamored with all of it despite the fact that it's tiny and currently holds very little besides pie pans and baking ingredients.  

So here's to you adulthood. To small first apartments and even smaller first kitchens. To hopefully not bouncing my deposit check and to forgetting to buy a shower curtain.  Here's to it all and here's to cake. 

Let's eat. 

For this recipe I combined Martha Stewart's holiday sensibility with Smitten Kitchen's ability to consistently deliver a really, really good cake. 

Instead of sweetened pineapple juice I used molasses and instead of rum I used bourbon. I also had to adjust the recipe to make more of the actually cake part because I wanted to use a cake pan and not a skillet. 

Pear Upside Down Cake. 
Adapted heavily from Martha Stewart and Smitten Kitchen 

For the Top:
Peal, core, and slice 4 to 5 large ripe pairs. Melt two tablespoons of butter in a large skillet on the stove top. Once the butter melts add the pears in an even layer along the bottom of the skillet. Sprinkle with 3 tablespoons of sugar. I prefer a combination of sugar and granulated maple sugar.  Let pears brown and caramelize for several minutes on each side. Arrange pears in the bottom of a buttered cake pan. 

For the Batter: 
2 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons of baking powder
1 1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs 
1 1/4 stick of unsalted butter, slightly softened 
2 teaspoons vanilla 
1 1/2 tablespoons bourbon 
3/4 cup dark molasses 

Whisk flour, salt, and powder together in a bowl and set aside.  Whip butter in food processor until light and fluffy. Slowly add in sugar and mix. Add in eggs, stirring well after each addition. Add in vanilla and bourbon. Slowly add half of the dry mixture, until just combined.  Beat in molasses. Add the last of the dry mixture and stir until just combined. Pour batter over pears and bake at 350 degrees for about an hour. 

Let cool in cake pan and then invert onto a plate.  This is definitely not the prettiest of pear cakes, but it's mighty tasty and made my apartment smell like caramelized sugar for several hours.  

Last but not least, here's to new traditions, because if I know me, the first baked cake christening is not likely to go lightly.